Hartlepool United striker opens up on battle for places under Matthew Bates

Niko Muir.
Niko Muir.

Hartlepool United manager Matthew Bates named an unchanged side ahead of Pools FA Cup victory over Kidsgrove Athletic last weekend.

That’s not to say there isn’t competition for places, though, and even the club’s star striker, Niko Muir, is just happy to have a place in the side right now.

Muir, 25, admitted after the game he likes to set his own individual targets when it comes to scoring goals.

However, the striker, who arrived from Hendon in the summer, says those in the first team have been kept on their toes, with others ready to step up.

“He could have changed it up but there would have been no difference,” said Muir when asked about his manager’s team selection.

“All the boys Marcus (Dinanga), Hawkesy (Lewis Hawkins), the other Hawksey (Josh Hawkes), Kenton (Richardson), everyone plays their part in a team, it’s a team game.

“They could have come in and done a job so I’m just happy to be playing to be honest.”

Pools had chances to win by more than a solitary goal against Kidsgrove but didn’t take their chances following Muir’s eighth-minute opener.

After failing to extend their advantage, Pools were made to work for the victory against their part-time opponents.

Even so, Muir believes his side deserve credit for avoiding a potential upset.

“We had chances to kill them off, on another day those chances probably go in, and they’re dead and buried before half time,” said Muir.

“Credit to the boys, the back three and Fezz (Nicky Featherstone), and the midfielders, me and Lukey (James - pictured below) and the subs that came on everyone played their part.

“It’s a team game and everyone does the job together.”

Everyone will certainly need to play their part during a busy November schedule for Pools.

Bates’ men are due to play five times next month, including their FA Cup trip to Gillingham, while they will also have to manage lengthy trips to Dover Athletic and Bromley in a schedule that will test their stamina.

Even so, Muir has plenty of faith in his team-mates, and is backing Pools to continue their impressive recent form.

“I’m confident, I’ve got belief in the boys, three clean sheets on the bounce, we’ll take that,” the striker added.

“We’re confident every game we go into so nothing will change really.”